Alcohol Withdrawal Symptom Timeline

Without proper medical care, alcohol withdrawals can be life-threatening and with millions of people around the world suffering from alcoholism, it’s never been so critical to understand the alcoholism withdrawal symptoms timeline.

In fact, getting to know the alcoholism withdrawal symptoms timeline can help individuals prepare for what to expect and seek help when necessary.

Let’s take a dive into it and see what to expect.

Alcoholism Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

The alcoholism withdrawal symptoms timeline is largely determined by the severity of the disease. The worse the addiction is, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms could be, and the longer it might last.

A heavy drinker or an alcoholic may experience withdrawal symptoms shortly after discontinuing a session. This is typically within eight hours of the last drink, although it may take longer in some instances.


It usually takes between seven and ten days for the alcohol withdrawal process to complete, but some symptoms may last for weeks.

The First 12 Hours: Easing Into It

Most people experiencing alcohol withdrawal will begin to feel some discomfort between six and twelve hours after their last drink. However, it can be normal for heavy drinkers to start feeling the effects much sooner. As symptoms develop, they will go from mild to severe. 

During the first few hours, a patient might experience a number of symptoms that include:

  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hypertension and hyperventilation
  • Elevated heart rate
  • High body temperature
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Anxiety

The First 24 Hours: Mild Symptoms

After the appearance of the first onset of symptoms, the withdrawal process will progress, bringing about new symptoms and aggravating the existing ones.

The first 24 hours could bring about an experience of increasingly severe and dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as:

  • Disorientation 
  • Seizures
  • Feeling pins and needles
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression

Days 2-3: Moderate Symptoms

Symptoms may intensify as the body adjusts to the absence of alcohol. Days 2-3 are often characterized by moderate symptoms such as tremors, insomnia, and an increased heart rate. 

Panic attacks and seizures tend to be more common during this period as well, although they might be moderate in severity. In some cases, individuals may also experience hallucinations, although these are less common.

During this period, the addict is in a delicate medical state and should be supervised by medical professionals. 

Days 4-7: Severe Symptoms

It is typically during days four to seven that the recovering alcoholic suffers the most severe health risks. It is not just debilitating for their mental health, but also for their physical health, which carries the highest risk of mortality.

During this period delirium tremens could lead to cardiac collapse. In fact, statistics show that patients have a 37% risk of mortality during this period if they don’t receive proper medical treatment.

After 7 Days: Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)

By this time most withdrawal symptoms should begin to ease out. However, those with more acute symptoms might experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These symptoms could last for weeks or even months depending on the health of the patient and the severity of their alcoholism.

PAWS might include symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia which might need to be treated using therapy. If these co-occurring symptoms are not treated during this period, the patient might be at a higher risk of relapse.

Where to Get Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help. 

Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and even life-threatening, especially for those with a history of heavy drinking or alcoholism.

Elysium Healthcare is a top-rated recovery program in the United States that offers alcohol treatment for withdrawal.

Contact us today to find out more.

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